The Obsessive Love Stage Most Rejected Partners Can't Get Past

Are you in love or obsessed?

Partner being rejected AntonioGuillem | Canva

Interestingly, the term “limerence” has come back in style. This term can be found in the 1979 book Love and Limerence by Dorothy Tennov. Limerence is “first and foremost a condition of cognitive obsession” about an often unrequited love interest. When it is reciprocated, you can feel “euphoria." 

She discusses that this state resolves after a few months or years (meaning it is equivalent to honeymoon stage timing) or can continue indefinitely if you remain in a state of uncertainty about whether the “limerent object” loves you back. For the married and monogamous, it is interesting to think about how sexual rejection may keep partners in a consistently limerent state, which is largely the same thing as preoccupied attachment.


Overall, within monogamy, women’s sex drive generally decreases. Desire moves from spontaneous to responsive for the majority of women after the honeymoon stage, even high libido ones. Some women though maintain spontaneous desire for much longer than the 1.5–3 years of the honeymoon phase, even beyond accounting for the effect of age, perimenopause, kids, natural variability between women, and so forth. These women are often those who have low libido partners who are constantly rejecting them, thus keeping them in a limerent, obsessional stage where they are consumed with fantasies of having their affection returned.


RELATED: 7 Tiny Signs He Doesn't Really Love You, Based On The Intimacy Alone

Generally, it is not as common for men to sexually reject women as vice versa, as males have higher libidos, but women who are the higher drive partners are about a third of the women I see. When men do reject their wives for sex, it can be even more devastating than the converse situation, as it feels “unnatural” and is never even discussed in popular media as a possibility. 

Limerence, or infatuation, is a version of obsessional anxiety largely focused on getting a person to love you back. When men reject their wives, I have seen the wives respond with a high level of spontaneous desire, or at the very least, an obsession centered on making their husbands respond to their advances. 

It is like these women’s brains remain in a bad, attachment-panicked version of the honeymoon stage forever, because they never get “proof” that they are desirable to their husbands, and therefore, they continue to experience spontaneous desire.


Often, these wives start many fights over not feeling close enough and threaten to leave their husbands. Eventually, once they start therapy or grow more secure, they may well leave. (Women who don’t grow more secure or healthy may cheat, to get their emotional needs met.) These ex-limerents generally identify as having very high sex drive, but if they get into a securely attached relationship, they tend to experience the same lessening of drive as other women do, because they no longer are motivated by anxiety. 

RELATED: 16 Critical Differences Between Real Love And Infatuation

I have seen a similar thing happen to men who are always rejected and to people married to avoidant partners. You become obsessed with getting the person to love you back, so your brain never moves out of the limerent/honeymoon stage, but it is not a wonderful and close honeymoon stage but one that centers around anxiety and feeling rejected. Sex drive can be artificially inflated in these situations. Men trained in the “pickup artist” community try to do this to their wives by “inspiring dread,” an unethical practice.


Within monogamy, the best case scenario is a mutually loving sexual and emotional relationship where even if the woman doesn’t get aroused at the very thought of the man anymore, she associates him with positive physical and emotional experiences and therefore looks forward to sex and even initiates it. This is far more emotionally healthy than a woman who feels anxiety, fear, resentment, and also spontaneous desire because she can never fully relax into a reciprocal and secure relationship.

RELATED: What To Do If You And Your Partner Have Different Sex Drives

If you think that a man who constantly rejects you either sexually or emotionally is “the one” because you always feel a high level of desire for him (along with your anxiety and insecurity), this may be far from the truth. Instead, you are never able to fully relax with him so your brain keeps you in the limerence phase. 

You are preventing yourself from getting into a truly loving partnership because you are attracted to and remain with people who reject you. Eventually, as you mature and grow in confidence and age, you will likely leave this man and regret that you wasted so much time on him. 


Why do we become so attracted to people who reject us?

♬ original sound - The Living Relationship

Therapy can help if you are obsessed with a person who continuously rejects you sexually or emotionally. This is not a healthy stage and is almost always related to an upbringing where you did not get your needs met, which is now a familiar feeling for you on a subconscious level. 

As you identify the early life experiences that set you on a path where only rejecting people appeal to you, they often seem much less appealing. I have worked with clients who truly fall out of limerence/infatuation with a partner when they can objectively look in and view this partner for what they are: someone who is avoidant, rejecting and will never be capable of returning love.


If this post spoke to you, the key takeaway to introspect about is: Don’t mistake high desire for a rejecting person for healthy love. Instead, focus on figuring out why you are attracted to people who tend to hurt you.

RELATED: 6 Ways Infatuation Is Very Different From Real Love (And How To Tell The Difference)

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.